Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa Aboriginal "Champions"

During the past 15 years, Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa have employed over 50 Indigenous personnel in a variety of positions within the tourism, hospitality and wellbeing sector. Majority of the personnel started at the Lodge as unemployed and unexperienced and were given the opportunity of on the job training and subsequent employment which in a lot of cases led to further success, in employment, life skills and career advancement.

Some Examples...


Juan Walker

Juan Walker

Has been employed at Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa for 10 years. From a 19 year old shy Kuku Yalanji boy, he has taken every opportunity offered to him and as a result is now the most experienced staff member, efficient in every department of the Lodge.

He has travelled the globe representing the Lodge and his people at International exhibitions, as well as Australian and International tourism conferences. He is the manager and mentor for his department. Juan has also developed his own 4WD cultural tour business called Walkabout Adventures.

Keely Naden

Keely Naden

A Kuku Yalanji woman who now resides in Cairns, she grew up in Mossman and worked at the Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa as a tour guide for over 12 months, enjoying re-learning and sharing her culture. In that time, she also began training as a Spa Therapist. She now works for Far North Queensland Rural Division of General Practice (FNQRDP) as a field officer.

Lalania Hall

A young mother of 4 boys, Lalania  is a Kuku Yalanji lady who supplies the Daintree Eco Lodge & Spa with some of her Aboriginal art and was previously employed as a Food & Beverage Attendant. Lalania has followed her ambitions and has become an air hostess for JetStar. Lalania & husband built their home in Julatten near Mossman and travel to Cairns for work.


Tahlia Burchill

Tahlia Burchill

The face of Daintree Essentials. While at high school, she was working at the Lodge as a casual Food & Beverage Attendant for over 3 years. Tahlia is also a very talented dancer and artist and has sold a number of paintings through the Lodge's Julaymba Gallery. Also Tahlia represented the Lodge at International tourism exhibitions.

In 2009 Tahlia completed her final year of High School, was the School Captain, recipient of the Caltex All Rounder and School Service Award, winner of the Mossman and District Lions Youth of the Year Quest, Miss Mossman Show Queen and Charity Queen. Tahlia was also the recipient of the Indigenous Ambassador Award in both 2008 and 2009.

She was a mentor to the entrants of the 2009 Indigenous Leader of Tomorrow Program and in 2010 recipient of the Australia Day Junior Citizen of the Year Award. Tahlia will follow her dream and has been accepted to study Performing Arts at university in Brisbane for 2010.

Brian Swindley

Leon Burchill

A Kuku Yalanji man from Mossman, and older brother of Tahlia, Leon worked at the Lodge in 2002/03. It is from meeting guests of the Lodge that were Hollywood actors, and his then idol, Ernie Dingo, that he realised his dream to become an actor, moved away from home and was accepted into NIDA (National Institute of Dramatic Art). He has now scored a number of roles in Australian film and theatre shows, most recently in the feature film Stone Bros. - released in cinemas November 2009 and more to come.

In a world that is fast losing it's traditions and cultures... we are not...